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May 4-9: Easter 4th Week - Reflections


May 4 Monday: Jn 10:11-16: 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the Good Shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16…USCCB reflections: (https://youtu.be/KbA1bcD679s?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DA8uaxE25BlBvINntS5bWpi )

The context: It was winter, probably the time of the Jewish Feast of Dedication, and Jesus was walking on the east side of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews gathered around him and asked him if he were the promised Messiah.  Instead of giving them a straight answer, Jesus told them that he was the Good Shepherd and explained to them his role as such. Role of Jesus as our Good Shepherd: Introducing himself as the Good Shepherd of his flock, Jesus makes three claims in today’s Gospel. 1) He knows his sheep and his sheep hear his voice. Jesus knows each one of us, our needs, our merits, and our faults. He loves us as we are, with all our limitations, and he expects us to return his love by keeping his words.  He speaks to us at every Mass, through the Bible, through our pastors, our parents, our friends, and the events of our lives. 2) He gives eternal life to his sheep by receiving us into his sheepfold through Baptism. He strengthens our Faith by giving us the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.  He supplies food for our souls in the Holy Eucharist and in the Divine words of the Holy Bible.  He makes our society holy by the Sacrament of Matrimony and the priesthood (through the Sacrament of Orders). 3) He protects his sheep by placing them in the loving hands of his mighty Father.  Without Jesus to guide us and protect us, we are easy prey for the spiritual wolves of this world; these include Satan, as well as the seven deadly sins of pride, avarice, envy, gluttony, anger, lust and sloth.
Life messages:  Today’s Gospel challenges us to be good shepherds to those entrusted to our care and to be good sheep in Jesus’ sheepfold, namely the Church. 1) We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. 2) We become good sheep in our parishes a) By hearing and following the voice of our pastors through their homilies, Bible classes, counseling and advice.  b) By taking the spiritual food given by our pastors through regular and active participation in the Holy Mass and by frequenting the Sacraments, prayer services, renewal programs and missions. c) By cooperating with our pastors, giving them positive suggestions for the welfare of the parish, encouraging them in their duties, occasionally offering them loving, constructive criticism, and praying for them.  d) By daily prayers for good pastors. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 20

May 5 Tuesday: Jn 10:22-30: Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/
 The context: It was December during the week of the Jewish Feast of the Dedication of the Temple or Hanukkah, a week with the year’s shortest days and longest nights. The feast was also known as the Festival of Lights because during this feast the Jews lighted lamps representing the Mosaic Law and put them in the windows of the houses. Hanukkah served as a remembrance of the cleansing and rededicating of the Temple and its altar by the Jewish military commander Judas Maccabaeus in the year 165 B.C., after he had liberated Jerusalem from the control of the Seleucid Kings of Syria. The Syrian King Antiochus IV Epiphanes had profaned the Temple and its altar. It was during Hanukkah, when Jesus was teaching in Solomon’s portico, that the Jews plotted to trap Jesus by asking him to declare whether or not he was the promised Messiah.
Jesus’ reply: 1) Jesus accuses the Jews of unbelief and challenges them to believe in his Messianic and Divine claims by truthfully assessing his miracles. 2) Then Jesus gives the reason why the Jews cannot believe in him. They are not among his sheep. Faith and eternal life cannot be merited by man’s own efforts: they are a gift of God, and the Jews are refusing to accept this gift from God. 3) Jesus gives the assurance that his sheep – his followers – will have eternal life and will not perish because they are protected by God his Father who is stronger than the Evil One. 4) Finally, Jesus declares that he and God the Father are one. In other words, Jesus reveals that He is one in substance with the Father as far as Divine Essence or Nature is concerned, but He also reveals that the Father and the Son are distinct Persons.
Life messages: 1) When doubts about our Faith haunt us, let us try to read more about our Faith, to consult Catholic experts in our locality or on the Internet and to pray for the light of the Holy Spirit. 2) Let us find protection from the temptations of the Evil One in the sheepfold of the Church by frequenting the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, by meditative reading of the Bible, by personal prayers, and by works of charity. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 20

May 6 Wednesday: Jn 12:44-50: 44 Jesus cried out and said, “whoever believes in me believes not only in me but in Him who sent me. 45 And he who sees me sees Him Who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/
The context: Today’s Gospel text, taken from John’s Gospel, is a passage from the last public discourse of Jesus before his arrest and crucifixion.
The main ideas in the passage are 1) Jesus’ relationship with the Father; 2) Jesus’ role as the Light and Life of the world; and 3) the criteria for His final judgment of us – Heaven or Hell. First, Jesus teaches us that he is one with the Father and he is the image of his invisible Father. He is one with the Father, so that Father speaks through him and operates through him. Hence, those who accept Jesus and his message accept God the Father’s message. Second, Jesus claims that he is the Light and Life of the world. Psalm 27 exclaims, “The Lord is my Light and my salvation!”  As Light, Jesus removes the darkness of evil from the world and from our souls, shows us the correct way to go in life, and gives us the warmth of his sharing, sacrificial love. As Light, God’s word enables those with eyes of Faith to perceive the hidden truths of God’s Kingdom. As the Life of the world, Jesus, by his words, produces the very Life of God within those who receive these words with Faith. Third, we are rewarded or punished eternally based on whether or not we accept Jesus and his teachings and whether or not we live our lives accordingly.
Life messages: 1) As Christians our duty is to reflect and radiate the light of Jesus in the darkness of evil around us by acts of sharing love, kindness, forgiveness and humble service. 2) Let us ask for the strength of the Holy Spirit to choose Christ and his ideals every day and to reject everything contrary to Christ’s teachings. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 20

May 7 Thursday: Jn 13:16-20: 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/
The context: Today’s Gospel is the second part of the explanation Jesus gave to his disciples after washing their feet before the Last Supper.   He promised his disciples that that whoever listened to them would be listening to him as well, provided his preaching disciples became the humble servants of others.
Gospel lessons: In the first part of today’s Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the fact that the hallmark of his disciples must be their readiness and generosity in offering humble and sacrificial service to others, because that was the model Jesus had given them by his life and especially by washing their feet. It is by serving others that we become great before God. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Jesus shows his apostles how to treat people who are unfaithful and disloyal. Jesus hints at the betrayal of Judas by quoting Psalm 4:9: “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” Instead of distancing himself from Judas, Jesus offers him reconciliation, showing him more affection by washing his feet and by giving him a morsel of bread dipped in sauce with his own hand. In the third part, Jesus gives the basis for apostolic succession, stating that one who receives his apostles and messengers receives him, thereby receiving God the Father who sent Jesus.
Life messages: 1) Let us prove that we are true disciples of Jesus by rendering others humble and loving service today. 2) Let us learn to be reconciled with those who offend us by unconditionally pardoning them, by wishing them the very best and by keeping them in our prayers. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 20

May 8 Friday: Jn 14:1-6: 1 “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/
The context: Jesus consoles his apostles who are sad and disheartened at the prospect of his arrest and crucifixion by assuring them that he is going to prepare an everlasting accommodation for them in his Father’s house in Heaven. He gives them the assurance that he will come back to take them to their Heavenly abodes. It is then that Thomas says to Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus answers Thomas’ question with, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”
Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life: The basic doctrine of Judaism is that Yahweh is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Hence, Jesus is making the revolutionary claim that he is equivalent to Yahweh. Jesus declares that he is the safest and surest way to God, thus discrediting the notions that all religions are equally sure ways to reach God, or that no organized religion, but only living a good life of sharing love, is necessary to reach God. Jesus is the Way which he calls narrow, for it is the way of loving, sacrificial service. Jesus is the Truth who revealed truths about God and God’s relationship with man in his teaching. Jesus also taught moral truths by demonstrating them in his life. Jesus is the Life because he himself shares the Eternal Life of God, and because He shares his Divine Life with his disciples through the Word of God and the Sacraments.
Life messages: We should share the Divine Life of God by making use of the means Jesus established in his Church: a) by actively participating in the Eucharistic celebration and properly receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion; b) by the worthy reception of the other Sacraments; c) by the meditative and daily reading of the Word of God;  d) by following the guidance of the life-giving Spirit of God, living in the Church and within us;  e) by communicating with God the Source of Life, in personal and family prayers and f) by going to God to be reconciled with Him daily by repenting of our sins, by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, at a minimum, when we are in mortal sin (so that we can receive Him in the Eucharist), by forgiving others who offend us, and by asking God’s forgiveness of our own sins. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 20
May 9 Saturday: John 14:7-14: If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; 14 if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. USCCB video reflections: http://www.usccb.org/bible/reflections/
Scripture lesson: Answering Philip’s request at the Last Supper, Jesus explains, in today’s Gospel selection, the unity and oneness of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus clarifies the abiding presence of each Person of the Holy Trinity in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Hence, Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God. In order to see what God looks like, we have only to look at Jesus, and in order to hear how God speaks, we have only to listen to Jesus. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God Who cares intensely, and Who yearns for all men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus makes visible a God Who loves us unconditionally, unselfishly and perfectly.  If we put our trust in Jesus and believe in him, Jesus promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in Jesus’ Name. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray with confidence, Our Father who art in heaven ..give us this day our daily bread … (Matthew 6:9,11; Luke 11:2-3). 
 Life message: 1) We believe that God dwells within our souls in the form of His Holy Spirit, making us the temple of God where we have the indwelling presence of the Triune God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit living.  Hence, it is our duty to live always aware of the real presence of God within us and to adjust our life, accordingly, doing good to others and avoiding evil. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) 20